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Hands-on science and discovery at Zpannend Zernike

09 October 2018

This year saw a repeat of the ‘Zpannend Zernike’ Weekend of Science in Groningen this time, in the city centre too. As usual, there were workshops, lectures and all sorts of hands-on experiments for both young and not so young. An array of venues opened their doors in the city centre on Saturday 6 October and at Zernike Campus on Sunday 7 October.

Visitors were able to try out the hands-on Science LinX exhibits in Bernoulliborg, including making their own hair gel and shampoo or playing a game of Mindball. The Pretty Smart POWER Girls were also there to tell people all about the FIRST LEGO League competition, and they gave a workshop for young and old on programming with LEGO Mindstorms robots.

Of course, there were children’s lectures too including one about energy by chemistry professor Moniek Tromp. In this interactive lecture, Tromp used props such as a Newton’s Cradle and hand warmers to show how energy takes various shapes and that we need to find new ways to store it.


‘I really enjoyed it’, beams Pascal (13). ‘Some things I knew already, but not everything. I didn’t know that you can never run out of energy.’ Pascal wants to study robotics when he’s older, and he could already see links to his field of interest. ‘With robotics, you can also help to convert energy, so it would be cool to come up with ways to automate the whole process.’ His younger brother Casper (8) also learnt a lot: ‘Lots of things were completely new to me because I haven’t done them at school yet.’

There was something to see and do all over Zernike Campus. At the Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen (ESRIG), for instance, visitors could quiz scientists about isotope research or take a look at the laser lab. Even the sky was busy, with drones were flying overhead – researchers having launched their very smallest and very largest ones. These drones are able to perform special measurements that are important for research into greenhouse gases.


Demonstrations also took place at the KVI-Center for Advanced Radiation Technology (KVI-CART). Visitors could ask all about how proton therapy, radioactivity and cosmic radiation work, or take a look at the impressive AGOR particle accelerator. There was also a treasure hunt for children through the building and the chance to fire a vacuum cannon and learn all about vacuum technology in the process. Children were also able to climb on board the ‘Your Future Energy’ truck and make their own lights with piezoelectric crystals.

Zpannend Zernike is Groningen’s take on the Weekend of Science. The programme was developed by SRON, the University of Groningen, the UMCG, the University Museum, the Young Researchers, DOT, ESRIG, Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, Science LinX, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, ZAP Groningen, TNO, BuildinG, EnTranCe, the ‘Your Future Energy’ truck and KVI-CART.

Article: Mónica Espinoza Cangahuala

Last modified:29 October 2018 4.30 p.m.
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